Michael Danby MHR
Tel: (03) 9534 8126
Fax: (03) 9534 1575
117 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda VIC 3182
PO Box 2086
St Kilda West 3182
Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports)(4.30 p.m.) —May I begin
by congratulating the member for Wakefield on his nonpartisan election
to this chamber, and also to you, Mr Deputy Speaker Jenkins.
presence here today, indeed my existence, is an accident of history.
My grandfathers fought on opposite sides during the Great War. If
either had been more successful at their deadly craft, one side of
my family might not have existed. Fate intervened. Both returned safely
from the Western Front to their respective homelands of Germany and
Australia. History intervened again to see their children, my dear
parents, meet and marry in St Kilda after World War II. Before I return
to the odyssey that took me all the way from my parents' home at 117
Brighton Road, Elwood, to my electoral office at 117 Fitzroy Street,
St Kilda, and to this great debating chamber of our nation, let me
reflect on the great Labor tradition in Melbourne Ports, the constituency
I have the honour to represent into the new century, Australia's second
century as a nation.
Ports has existed since the election of the first federal parliament.
Our first Labor representative was Jim Matthews, a South Melbourne
tailor, elected in 1906. Matthews held the seat until 1931. Melbourne
Ports, based on our docks and factories, was one of the safest Labor
seats in the country; in fact, on four occasions, the candidates were
1931 Matthews retired and was succeeded by Ted Holloway. Originally
a bootmaker, Holloway had been a leader in the struggle against conscription
during the First World War and later, during the twenties, President
of the Melbourne Trades Hall. At the 1929 election, when conservative
Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce had tried to abolish the arbitration
system, Holloway defeated Bruce in his safe seat of Flinders—one
of the great upsets in Australian electoral history. So recent history
was not the first time that people from Melbourne Ports, the site
of Webb and East Swanson Dock, have taught grand political lessons
to conservatives from the electorate of Flinders.
who later transferred into Melbourne Ports, was a minister in the
Scullin Labor government. His grandson came to our campaign rooms,
like many hundreds of local people, to volunteer assistance in helping
make Kim Beazley Prime Minister.
Holloway retired in 1951, and the new member was Frank Crean, the
father of our Deputy Leader, the member for Hotham. Frank was one
of the first Labor members with formal training in economics, and
he rapidly became Labor's spokesman on economic matters. In 1972 Frank
Crean became Treasurer in the Whitlam Labor government. He served
as Minister for Overseas Trade and later became Deputy Prime Minister,
a post he held until the government was dismissed by Sir John Kerr
on 11 November 1975.
Crean retired in 1977 and now, though 82, he is still a well-known
figure around our community. I often see him at the fresh food markets
around Melbourne Ports. He continues to do the Labor Party great service;
in the recent election he did two shifts handing out the Labor ticket
at his usual post at the Middle Park Primary School.
was succeeded as member for Melbourne Ports by my predecessor, Clyde
Holding. Clyde had been a state member [start page 504] since 1962,
and he was Leader of the Opposition from 1967 to 1977. Holding became
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in the Hawke government. He succeeded
in returning Uluru to Aboriginal ownership. Clyde has great empathy
with the Aboriginal people, including the local Wurrundjeri or Bunerong
language people. It is an empathy I intend to continue.
this time Melbourne Ports has changed dramatically. Over the past
30 years factory employment has migrated to the outer suburbs, property
values have risen and areas like South Melbourne, Albert Park and
Elwood have filled with university educated professionals. It is the
centre of a thriving information technology and multimedia industry.
Ports has also attracted many immigrants, especially from Asia and
Eastern Europe. There has been a long established Jewish presence
in East St Kilda and Caulfield. St Kilda has also become the centre
of Melbourne's gay and lesbian community—perhaps because, as
long as I can remember, it has always had a tolerance of diversity.
Ports also has the largest concentration of immigrants from the former
Soviet Union. Doorknocking Westbury Street, East St Kilda, is like
visiting a street in Moscow. Perhaps I attended the most unusual election
meeting during the recent campaign. It was held by the Soviet War
Veterans League—men and women, some of whom fought from Stalingrad
to Berlin. These heroes have legitimate concerns about inequitable
allocation of veteran entitlements, and I intend to take them up in
is also the home of a substantial Greek community with its wonderful
soccer team and stadium, the mighty South Melbourne Hellas. The result
is one of Australia's most socially diverse and cosmopolitan electorates,
extending from working-class Port Melbourne through to middle-class
Caulfield and taking in the entertainment area of St Kilda and the
new residential developments in Southbank.
the decline in its traditional working-class base over the years,
the Labor Party has held the loyalty of Melbourne Ports voters. All
in all, Melbourne Ports is a community where some people are struggling
to make their next million but many are struggling to make their next
meal. Around the corner from my office, the Sacred Heart Mission every
lunchtime serves over 500 people in a soup kitchen.
all this difference, we are a community of tolerance, a community
united by certain values. We value the strengths and contributions
of the rainbow of cultural groups and backgrounds in our community.
We understand how that diversity not only strengthens the social fabric
but also gives us competitive advantage in a world of immense opportunity
for Australian companies exporting both goods and services.
result at the election in Melbourne Ports, my first election, was
satisfying. Despite some further unfavourable demographic changes,
we essentially maintained Labor's previous support. Particularly pleasing
was the fact that in my electorate One Nation did not have a single
poll worker at a single booth at any time on election day. With more
than two-thirds of their donkey vote flowing directly on to me—hardly
their favourite candidate—it is my contention that in no other
seat did they record a lower real vote.
reflected the mood in our electorate. In the pre-election period we
collected signatures of nearly 10,000 locals who petitioned the Prime
Minister to take a stronger stand against the intolerance of One Nation.
As Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, a local, told the Melbourne Age:
do not in any way believe the Prime Minister is a racist. But he has
mishandled it. He wasn't strong enough. We have to go to a higher
platform when it comes to deciding the future of Australia facing
the year 2000.
now of all people, I sit next to the new member for Oxley—and
he is a far more agreeable member than the previous one.
me turn to Labor's magnificent local team, which organised dozens
of functions between the preselection and the election and street
stalls every weekend for a year. We had many people on the frontbench
who came to assist the campaign. Many thanks for the positive impact
on the electorate made by the Leader of the Opposition; the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition; Senators Faulkner and Ray; [start page 505]
the members for Holt, Canberra, Dobell, Werriwa and Kingsford-Smith;
former Prime Minister Bob Hawke; and New South Wales Premier Bob Carr,
all of whom participated in the year-long Melbourne Ports campaign.
my relative equilibrium, I want to thank my dear partner, with her
delightful Portuguese surname, Amanda Mendes Da Costa, my beloved
children, Byron and Laura, and my brother Simon and his family. To
the three musketeers, Andrew Hockley, Henry Pinskier and Andrew Landeryou,
you answered every call from a frenetic candidate. So did my good
friend Luisa Bazzani, who, if all is going according to schedule,
may actually be in `Labor' at the moment! Good luck, Luisa. I also
thank Ari Suss, Tova Tron, Debra Heatley, Tony Butler, Melissa Scott
and Adam Carr who staffed our electoral office. Thank you also to
Zoran Kovacic, Nathan Shafir, Marcia Pinskier, Phil Zajac, Bill Richards—who
is here in the gallery—Ann Furness, Bunna Walsh and many, many
others who made an invaluable contribution.
throws up many wonderful political dynasties, such as the Creans locally,
but I was blessed during the election period with Bill Landeryou,
who descended as Tennyson described `like a wolf on the fold'. He
soon whipped our enthusiasts into a tightly organised machine. There
are three other Labor figures who have responsibility for Labor's
new chapter in Melbourne Ports. Barry Cohen, a distinguished former
member of this House, has always been available to me. His good humour,
wise counsel and fatherly interests have sustained me. My mentor,
the first woman Speaker of this House, Joan Child, has nurtured me
since she oversaw my political apprenticeship as a candidate for Goldstein
in 1990 following her retirement. Finally, to Mary Easson, the former
member for Lowe, my first President of Young Labor, and her husband,
Michael, I thank you for your great faith in me, particularly during
the last few wilderness years.
also want to thank my supporters at AIJAC, where I was the editor
of the Australia-Israel Review for a number of years. At AIP, as it
was then called, I spent a great deal of time researching and writing
about the ugly face of Australian politics—extremism. If Jeff
Kennett had promised to chase One Nation down every burrow, in those
days he would have probably found me there already. I learnt that
the bright light of scrutiny almost always was enough to challenge
extremism. Facts, logic and evidence were the weapons we used, and
we managed to win many of these debates. We helped inform the national
debate about the Middle East in Australia, and we stood up for democracy
in that region.
is appropriate that I also thank that fine organisation the Shop Assistants
Union, where I worked for a number of years. I felt privileged to
have worked there; I still do. Under the leadership of Michael Donovan
and Joe de Bruyn, the SDA is one of the fastest growing unions in
the nation. It deals professionally with employers, works tirelessly
through its members and employs some of the most talented people in
industrial relations today.
Melbourne Ports, while we question what globalisation means for us,
we understand its basic premise that national borders ought not restrict
unnecessarily the free flow of goods and services, people and ideas,
and capital and growth around the world. Fortress Australia is a dying
if not dead notion. Forthright Australia should be the description
we give ourselves as a nation—forthright enough to compete not
just in sport but also in information technology, as many of our bright
young companies in Melbourne Ports do today; forthright enough to
achieve true and formal independence from the United Kingdom; forthright
enough in the world to never shy away from defending human rights.
need a government forthright enough to stand up to those in the community
who seek to exploit those who are threatened by the changes in our
economy; a government forthright enough never to sell its soul to
racist wedge politics. We need a government that understands that
training and education can provide a springboard for export success
for industry. The answer is government playing its legitimate role
as the provider of necessary infrastructure for Australian companies
to use to assist them to grow.
On this side of the chamber we understand full well that it is our
mission to further a high wage, high growth economy. The old industries
of the past that relied on tariffs can no longer deliver sustainable
high wages for Australian workers, but the ingenuity of Australians,
the talent of our young people and the quality of our universities
have enabled us not just to see but to actually create a real prospect
of radically reinventing our country's economy.
note with concern the words of the newly elected member for Barker,
an adherent of Friedman and Hayek, who said that his ideological commitment
was to freedom of choice and that we ought never to force a citizen
to do anything in that citizen's interest as long as it did not harm
anyone else. That innocuous sounding statement is the intellectual
cloak to cover the Liberal Party's new pursuit of voluntary voting.
That is their dream. It is a dangerous and divisive dream. It says
to those often excluded from decision making, `You can't make a difference.
You're too destitute to concern yourself with politics. Leave it to
road traffic laws, by contrast, provide for the compulsion to wear
a seatbelt. It is true that driving around without a seatbelt and
crashing your skull through the windscreen does not harm anyone, but
does that mean that we should not as a community be concerned about
it? Does it mean that the community does not pay for it? The idea
of voluntary voting is an equally unAustralian ideologically driven
idea. It would diminish a key part of our citizenship. It would remove
one of the responsibilities that we each owe each other as citizens.
It would send a message to the young, the poor, the disenfranchised,
the excluded and the unemployed, `You are not important enough to
vote. Voting is for the educated and propertied elite.'
my home state of Victoria we have a state government that is too clever
by half. It has allowed gambling to run amok. It has ignored the consequences
of doing so. It points to the Melbourne Aquatic Centre in Albert Park
and other worthy monuments. Those facilities are excellent, but the
despera tion of tens of thousands of Victorians has paid for them.
It is too high a price. There have been too many suicides, too many
bankruptcies and too many marriage break-ups caused by gambling. I
congratulate the Treasurer, the member for Higgins, for establishing
a national inquiry into the effects of gambling. Whether or not it
was motivated by attempts to score points off the chief spruiker of
casinos, the Premier of Victoria, matters not. As the member for Sydney
do a great disservice to the people we represent if we assume that
they are looking for easy answers or glib pronouncements. We have
to be prepared to rethink our own assumptions; to see merit in our
opponents where it exists.
is a compassionate party. We abhor social Darwinism—except perhaps
in preselections. In surviving the long process from preselection
to election, my major disappointment is that my father, Fred, did
not live to see this day. He and my late mother, Margaret, would have
been proud to see me here. My father passed away on the eve of the
a positive reflection on Australia and the Labor Party that just one
generation after he came to this country as a refugee from Nazism,
his son could win a seat in federal parliament. All his life I saw
by his bedside pictures of his murdered parents, Bruno and Margarethe
Danziger. Both perished in that paradigm of evil established under
the swastika. My grandfather, a decorated World War I veteran, died
in KZ Theresienstadt and my grandmother in Auschwitz. Placing their
names in the record of a great democratic institution like this is
proof that Hitler's daemonic plan did not succeed.
members —Hear, hear!
DANBY —On behalf of my family and other families with similar
backgrounds, I express our gratitude that here in tolerant Australia
the doctrine of a fair go lives on and every person is judged by the
content of their character. Given my family experience, I have a lifelong
loathing of the two evil empires this century brought forth, whose
infamy is their epitaph. But the Cold War is now over. The welcome
destruction of communism, like [start page 507] Nazism before it,
has ended the polarisation of the world.
an end of ideology nor an end of history but a new international future
opens with the new millennium. It is not coincidental that peace has
broken out in South Africa, Ireland and the Middle East. This was
never clearer than in the brave handshake we saw in the Rose Garden
in Washington some years ago. In a past life, when I edited a small
newsletter on the Middle East, I had the great honour of introducing
Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin at an international conference.
do not have the military record of Graeme Edwards, the member for
Cowan. My military experience is restricted to a couple of years in
the Reserve Officer School at Puckapunyal. But I do know that Rabin's
handshake with Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, took even more courage
than his years as a general ever demanded. His tragic assassination
only underscored the necessity of his deed of peace.
on my upbringing, it is as though the boundaries of Melbourne Ports
were within my mind. My mother, an Australian Hairdresser of the Year
in 1950, was a volunteer at Citizen Welfare in St Kilda and worked
with the former member for Lalor to get a library in St Kilda. I can
remember attending my first football match at the Junction Oval in
Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, when St Kilda still played there. I remember
shopping in Acland Street with my mother in the early 1960s when it
was like the lower East Side of New York in the 1920s. As a pupil
at Elwood Central, I lost my first footy in the canal just up from
where the 1920s gangster Squizzy Taylor had an escape tunnel to Glenhuntly
I reflect on my childhood, I cannot help but think how life seemed
easier and people a little friendlier back then. I cannot imagine
when I was growing up that any government would have closed the only
social security office in our local community that desperately needs
such services. I cannot imagine even Sir Robert Menzies talking about
`efficiency dividends' and prioritising ideology over the demonstrated
needs of the Australian people.
will not recite Mr Emerson's—the member for Rankin—seven
pillars of wisdom for the creation of a just society. However, describing
the creation of the Australian equivalent of LBJ's Great Society,
he argued that we had:
. . a government obsessed with ideology of unfettered markets and
totally apathetic to the appalling social consequences of their free
market dogma. They seek market solutions with heartless human consequences.
should not be continually obliged to justify socially responsible
policies in terms of the budget bottom line.
When speaking about the recent fate of the Gingrich Republicans, Stephen
Dorrell in the Spectator had a warning for the current coalition government.
We seemed to have forgotten that although the hubbub of the marketplace
provides the essential heartbeat of a successful society, most of
us prefer to live in quieter neighbourhoods.
He also said:
We need to trade in an open market, but we want to live in a community.
In Melbourne Ports we live in such a community. I hope I will always
do credit to that place, to my family, to my friends, to my heritage
and to my other family—the ALP.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins) —Before I call the honourable
member for Cook, I remind the House that this is the honourable member's
first speech. I ask the House to extend to him the usual courtesies.